St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

1930 Electric Power Line Crosses the St Croix River in Burnett County South of HWY 70

An interesting scrapbook came to the Luck Museum last week from New York.  I had exchanged emails last fall with Lisa N, whose grandfather spent the summer of 1930 working on electricity projects in Polk and Burnett Counties of Wisconsin and Pine County Minnesota. 
The scrapbook was 100+ photos of the project and included building a tower on the Wisconsin side of the St Croix River and running a high voltage line (66 kilovolts) from a new power plant in Pine City to Cumberland, WI.  
Wisconsin Hydro-Electric Co., headquartered in Amery, WI appears to have been the owner of the line.  A clipping from the a September newspaper, the Cumberland Advocate, explains the project.  Here is the clipping, some photos and some maps that are related to the St Croix River crossing only.  There are also photos of the new Pine City Steam Power plant being built, the Cumberland electrical substation, the Huntingdon MN dam, a dam near Star Prairie and some from Milaca.  
 All that is left of the St Croix Crossing is the tower base -- 4 galvanized irons sticking out of the ground on the high WI bank of the River. 
  Everett Hanson, my brother, said that the DNR crew he worked with in 1972 (or about then) came across them when building some trails along the St Croix  He said the folks speculated, but none knew what they were.   The next time he heard about the base was in 2015 when another DNR person, Mike Wallis, was looking at the area for timber sales.  At the time, he contacted Everett, who contacted me, and again we speculated, but found no information. 
  Finally we know!  The next question is --when was it removed.  As best we can pin it down right now is between 1940 and 1950.  


  Photos from the Harold M Holm Album.  He was one of the engineers on the project (noted in the clipping above). His granddaughter, Lisa passed along the album.  Harold was a Dane from Racine, WI.  At the time the power line was being built, Harold's father and mother-in law were living in Luck as Minister Neilsen of St Peter and Luck Lutheran churches.  Harold parked his truck in the parsonage garage, and Lisa's father was born in Luck.

Building the tower on the Wisconsin side of the St Croix River

Although you can't see it, on the far bank in the cut right of way is the electric tower on the Wisconsin side

The vertical line in the center of the photo is a wire overhead leading to the toweron top of the hill (not really visible here)
View from the St Croix Wisconsin tower looking east across the Burnett County, Anderson Township sand barrens. 

This is a view from one of the towers along the 54 mile line.  They were placed where lakes were crossed and over the St Croix River.  I don't know if this is looking east over the St Croix or somewhere else. The photos are not all labeled and not always in geographical order

The crawler was used for pulling up the H wooden poles

Working on the sand barrens 

This about 1940 land use survey map of along the St Croix in Burnett County shows the electric line angling from lower right to upper left. 

The tower had to have a special base built below ground

Complete tower

I put a line on a modern Google map where the line crossed the St Croix. There is no vegetation corridorleft now.

The 1938 Wisconsin Aerial photographs are on the internet.  With them you can trace the exact route from Pine City MN to Cumberland WI.  The route is Pine City to Benson (Randall) to Trade River, to Atlas, Luck, McKiney Cumberland.  I drew the yellow mark just above and right of the cleared right of way.  Here it crosses the St Croix River. 

About where the "4" shows on the map next to the Minnesota text is where the electric line crossed the St Croix River.  This is 1915.  The Railroad crossed the river to the south on its way to Grantsburg, WI

1938  with my yellow line at the St Croix River crossing

Another photo below -- not sure which side of the River,but maybe looking east into MN.  And not even sure if this is the St Croix River. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

History of the Wolf Creek, Polk County Wisconsin Cemetery by Duane Doolittle

Duane Doolittle, like his father before him, was on the Wolf Creek Cemetery board for decades.  He passed away in 2017, and left big shoes to fill as a Sterling town board member and Cemetery chairman.  
  In January of 2017, at the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society Christmas Party, I recorded him telling about the history of the Wolf Creek Cemetery.  

You can see the video at the link at the bottom. 

History of the Wolf Creek Cemetery

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Barn Gets a New Roof

Our farm barn is a few years over 100 years old.  The roof has been getting poor and in one place started leaking this summer.  We got several quotes and the best was with the local Amish roofers from Frederic, WI. 
  The came out 3 days in January, put 2x4 purlins over the whole roof and 2x6 edge planks, then screwed white steel panels. We had them put trim on too, do the milk house and then put red steel on the south end of the barn, in poor shape too.  
  Some photos from the work crew. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, Happy Holidays

Hope you have a great holiday season!   You can check out our annual Christmas card newsletter at 
2017 Christmas Newsletter  

If you miss posts here, we do a daily post with photos from the farm on facebook.  Just friend Russell B Hanson
  click the link 
Russ on Facebook

Monday, October 30, 2017

Becoming a Scientist

My First Microscope  Russ Hanson

When I was about 12 years old, I asked my parents for my own microscope for either Christmas or my Birthday (December 10th).  We shopped for Christmas presents from the two big home catalogs – Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Wards.  I had decided to be a scientist by that time and I knew I needed a microscope, telescope, chemistry set and some science books to read. 

I picked out a $12 microscope that looked like what I could use and was in the price range I thought was right for a present.  I worked on the farm, but it wasn’t until next year that I could work for my neighbor, Raymond Noyes and earn money on my own.  All of the money we earned picking cucumbers for the pickle factory was saved ($80 a summer) for school clothes. 

 In 1958, Dad worked out at $1 per hour as a carpenter when he had time while still farming fulltime, so $12 was what he earned for 12 hours of work – a great deal of money for the whole family.  
Mom and Dad felt that gifts for us that were educational were worth paying more for than toys.  As I wanted this badly, I negotiated with them and said I would accept it as both my birthday and Christmas gift for 1958.   I got it on my birthday.   I did get a few smaller gifts for Christmas, but the microscope was the main gift.   

 It came with two eyepieces and a few blank glass slides and a little booklet (now lost) on how to use it.   In the booklet, it said I should order glass slides with coverslips and glass slides with wells to put a drop of liquid.  So with a few dollars of birthday/Christmas money I ordered them too.  I don’t have those anymore with the microscope.

It took a while to learn how to use the microscope and I found that most things were best seen at the lowest power.  The longer eyepiece and the shortest rotating stage gave 60x (60 times magnification).  Higher powers were hard to focus and difficult to get the light right and dirt on the lenses showed up more.   

Things that were mostly transparent worked with the little round mirror under the stage (flat part) adjusted to focus light up through the hole, through the specimen on the glass slide and into the eyepiece.  Changing the mirror angle gave more or less light and made different views. 

If it was opaque (opposite of transparent) then I needed some light shining from the top side on the specimen.  An old goose-neck bendable reading lamp worked OK for this.  Later I bought a small flexible desk lamp just for using the microscope.

The first things I looked at were things around the house.  Flies, cloth, thread, food, and whatever looked interesting.  I wanted to look at pond water but that was harder until I got the coverslips – tiny flat thin sheets of glass.  Using an eyedropper (from an old Vicks medicine bottle) I put a drop of water from the swamp on the slide and looked.  It was messy and I got the bottom of the lens wet and dirty when I wasn’t careful and moved it too low.  It was is bothersome to clean them (all of them come apart by unscrewing them and can be cleaned with a cue-tip and alcohol). 

When I got the coverslips, I could put the drop down, gently put the coverslip over it and then look at the thin layer of trapped water between glass and slip.  I got a book from the school library and identified all sorts of little animals—big rotifers, amoebas, tiny odd looking things, euglena (half plant-half animal) and mosses algae and more—often swimming around in the tiny flattened drop. Nowadays a student can ask the school biology teacher to borrow a couple of glass slides and cover slips, but I was in grade school at Cushing and they didn’t have a microscope at all, and science was mostly from books.

 I spent hours looking at the life in an eyedropper drop of swamp water, of Wolf Creek water from Grandpa’s farm (Marvin’s now) and of course I looked at dirt, at sand, at plants, at blood, and everything I could find. 

 Eventually when I got into high school, the biology lab had a few microscopes that were much better and bigger and I could see more, but I always liked my own first microscope, and so kept it all my life to bring it out once in a while to look at something. 
It is an Adams 60x to 600x although the higher powers don’t work very good – and the lens are now somewhat dirty, I could use them if I was careful.   Having a microscope taught me to be careful, gentle, and scrupulously clean, and that is why my microscope still works.

When a lens is dirty, you can tell that by turning the eyepiece and seeing the dirt move on that set of lenses, or turning out  It could be cleaned up more, but it takes patience, care and is hard to get it really clean. 

The microscope was made in Japan, has brand name Adams  60x – 600x and came from either Sears or Wards.

My Uncle Lloyd Hanson got me started in electronics as the branch of science I decided to specialize in.  He told us about a “crystal radio” that he had in his barracks during World War II in California where he was  stationed.  He brought it out and said it ran without batteries and needed a long wire aerial and a ground, and could pick up local radio stations during the day and more at night.  He said during the war, they weren’t supposed to have a radio in the barracks as it would bother other people, so he used this one – a wooden box about 6x6x6 with some knobs and dials and a place to hook an earphone and the aerial and ground. 

He loaned it to me to try out and although I never got it going, decided to get a Crystal Radio for $4 from Sears for another birthday and that one did work.  I built it myself.  We didn’t have any good books on this in any libraries around and we didn’t get to them anyway, so I wrote to the Wisconsin Free Traveling Library in Madison for books on crystal radios, and they sent me one, and later another to read for a month.  The library was for folks in rural areas who couldn’t otherwise get books on subjects they wanted. No internet in those days!

By the time I was 16, I built my 6 inch reflector telescope, had bought several electronics kits, got a chemistry set for Christmas and was already taking all the science classes in High School and planning to go to college in physics, math and chemistry.  I managed to get a major in physics and math, later a minor in chemistry and another minor in computer science and took night classes most of my working life to learn more about electronics and computers.  However, my main job for 25 years was in medicine and biology where I was useful to the biologists because I knew about much of the science and math they didn’t study.   

 (I plan to give the microscope away to a budding scientist and this is for that person)
I hope you have as much enjoyment out of looking at the microscopic world under your first microscope as I did.  When I got older – much older, I bought a used better microscope that I still have.  I could see things better, but never really enjoyed it nearly as much as this one.  It is now 60 years old and, other than needing some cleaning, in just about as good a shape as when I got it.

Friday, October 27, 2017

2017 Living on the Farm -Jan - June

If you wonder what we were doing from last January to June 1st here on the Farm in NW Wisconsin, I made a file out of the Facebook posts and photos so those of you who don't follow me on Facebook can read.  

Jan - June 2017 On the Farm and Vacations

Thursday, September 7, 2017

1949 in NW Polk County Wisconsin

Looking for the obituary of Jens Rasmussen for a research project at the Luck Museum, I went to the morgue in the Leader office in Frederic WI a few years ago and pulled out the 1949 Leader.  First I noticed that there was a Burnett Co Leader and a Polk County Leader.  I chose the Polk County Leader book.  I had to look through the whole year of news until finally in December, at the end of the year's search, I found what I was looking for. 

On my way to December I ran into some interesting items. 

March 1949:  The Cushing Sportsmen's Club was building two 50x100 netting pens to raise 700 pheasants. 
There were over 200 members then.  There was a mild winter and an abundance of deer being fed in
deer yards by the Conservation Department.  The Cushing sportsmen requested restocking of some lakes in the area after a heavy freeze out that winter. 

Stokely's at Milltown added two buildings; a 22x72 foot barracks equipped with showers and other modern equipment for housing employees during canning season.  They also added 24x60 addition for packaging the cans.  They contracted for 1400 acres of peas and 1700 acres of corn for 1949.   

 B. S. Issacson of Amery, Wisconsin wrote in to reminisce about threshing in Georgetown for John Shay.  He had an old horsepower unit that used horses to walk around turning a shaft to run the machine.  "I had six horse to groom and feed and Bob Crane had four.  Joseph Crane and I spelled off feeding the machine and we got done threshing those days before snow came.  We threshed as much as 1000 bushels on the old Alen farm in Apple River.  I guess that was the biggest job we had.  Mr. Shay died that fall and the next year steam rigs came in.  I bought the horse power, but never threshed with it.  I sold the separator to Olaf Olson by Shiloh.  He had what he called a little steam engine he ran it with, and the horse power I traded to Lewis Schmidt in Osceola.  It got out of date awfully fast.  When I worked in Georgetown (1890s) there were only the Brane Bros. farming there.  They had all be in the war (Civil) and old Zimmer and Jack Ora carried mail from Balsam Lake to Bunyan.  The Anderson boys lived out east of Blake Lake.  I could have bought the whole flat east of Blake school for $1 per acre. 
     The Harry Brown tent show opened in Balsam Lake, June 4, for a five night stand.  For 43 years Harry Brown brought clean entertainment to this section and following his death a year ago his son Jack Brown who worked with his father from childhood, took up the reins and will carry on.  Mrs Harry Brown will stay at her home at Amery.  The troop this season is carrying 15 experienced actors and musicians and will present as an opening sow the old time favorite "The Big Push."
    The Cushing Tigers beat the Clam Falls team 10 to 2 with Longnecker from Cushing striking out 16. A month later, Clam Falls beat Cushing 12-10.  Clam Falls had players Rudd, Moody, Milton, K. Nelson, L. Nelson (Loren Nelson 3rd base who had 1 run, 1 hit and three errors!), Grant, Smith, Hacker and N. Nelson.  Cushing had H. Nelson, Hanson, Williams, W. Wilson, L. Wilson, E. berg, G. Laier (George Laier, 1st base who had 5 at bats with 1 run, and 3 hits), Hacker, Longnecker, and manager/pinch hitter
    The Trade Lake Lutherans had their 80 birthday and the Atlas Community church their 75th.  On July 2nd, Marlys Johnson and Leroy Hedberg got married (making it 60 years now in 2009).  Marlys wore a "street-length dress of aqua blue, with black accessories and a shoulder corsage of white orchids."  Leroy wore a blue suit with a white carnation boutonniere. 
    Elery K. Brenizer of Wolf Creek passed away July 1, 1949.  He was born in Dunkerton Iowa in 1879 and came to Wolf creek in 1903 with his wife Jessie.  He is survived by four sons, five daughters, three brothers and a sister.  Reverend James Everson and his wife sang "Abide With Me," Rock of Ages," Nearer My God to Thee," and "The Old Rugged Cross."  Pallbearers were Edwin Erickson, Leon Marriette, Maurice Hanson, Leonard Noyes, Roy Rutsch, and Hugh Orr.  Interment at Wolf Creek. 
    The eleventh annual Sterling Old Settlers picnic was enjoyed by a large crowd on Trade River.  Charles Nick Jr., played the accordion; Mrs Joe Lagoo gave a humorous reading, "The Coffee Party"; Nina Borup, a humorous reading "Why Worry"; Mrs. Andrew Nordstrom told how she and Mrs Nels F Nelson planned the first picnic; Chairman Christ Christianson introduced the speaker, Rev. Silas Larson of the Cushing Lutheran Church.  Lois and Helen Larson rendered a duet.  Mrs. Wm. Hoffman presented the awards.  In 1940, when Mr. and Mrs. Earl Roberts (married 57 years in 1949) first attend the picnic it was 40 years to the day when Mrs. Roberts moved from Sterling.   Eric Nordstrom made and served the coffee.  A big improvement at the grounds this year was the new fireplace made by Walter Neufeldt. 
     The Sterling Hustlers 4H met at John Schadow home.  The next meeting will be at the Willard Swenson home.  The club decided to have the club tour Aug 12th starting at the Orr school and the club fair Aug 20th at the Orr school.  Nancy Schadow, Club Reporter.  At the next meeting they practiced their play to be given at the Club Fair.
    The Polk County Fair advertised a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Fair, August 23-25.  Tuesday was the horse pulling contest; Wednesday an albino horse show; and Thursday the Greater Olympia Circus show.  Wednesday and Thursday afternoon were baseball games.  Twenty five cents admission; free parking and a large Midway with rides, shows and concessions. 
    And advertisement said "Bean Pickers wanted by stokely Foods, Frederic.  Report to the Leonard Boe place, Thursday morning, September 1.  We will pay 4 cents per pound."
    A photo of Captain Roland Nichols was in the paper.  He piloted his F-80 Jet Fighter in a non-stop flight of 950 miles in two hours and 20 minutes, smashing all existing Air Force records for mass-over-water flights by the F-0 fighter when 41 of the speedy ships flew from Okinawa to Japan.  Roland has been in the service since 1942. 
    Dr. J. A. Riegel, of St. Croix Falls led the River Rats in a canoe trip on the Namekagon river.  They started this in 1934.  This year they set up camp on the Namekagon and stayed in one camp.  Each day a couple of canoes and canoers were trucked up river to float back to camp; and another couple went down and were picked up and brought back in the evening.  The fishing was not too good.  Al Stenberg, Hank Wallin, Burnett Larson, Conrad Peterson, Kenneth Wallin, Ernie Wallin, Elliott Tarbell and Ted Clymer and others were in the group.  Breakfast was "coffee, pancakes and syrup, fried eggs and bacon, fried potatoes, fish and sausages topped off with a few slices of cantaloupe of Jake's raising."  Amongst the group were a doctor, undertaker, justice of the peace, inseminator, forester, and newspaper reporter--none of whose skills were needed on the trip.
    Mrs. Charles Carnes (Nancy Brown) passed away at the home of her daughter, Mrs Eugene Hanson at the age of 94 September 11th.  She was born near Waterloo, IA July 18, 1855.  She married Charles Wesley Carnes, Nov 14, 1880.  They had five children, Zen, Ray, Nettie, Clarence and Elza.  Included in the survivors were a granddaughter, Mrs. Alberta Hanson, of Cushing.  They were converted in the Baptist church near Waterloo and soon after they entered into the ministry of the Free Methodist church, where they gave over 40 years of faithful service.  Her husband died in 1931, and she had made her home with her daughter since.  At the service, Rev. and Mrs. Caulkins sang "Abide With Me", "The eastern Gate", and "Safe In The Arms of Jesus". 
    Polk County Judge Charles Madsen, wrote an article "Youth Delinquency Rampant."  In September, five boys were in Juvenile court for stealing.  Two other boys on probation were arrested in Minneapolis and confessed to 22 burglaries in 3 states. Three other young men were arrested for burglaries and cattle rustling.  At least a half a dozen other boys are waiting to be brought to court for petty theft.  Judge Madsen, who was chairman of the Polk County Community Fund Drive that year, said the answer was to support organizations like Scouts, 4-H, Children's Service Society (adoption agency) and other groups who help youth by contributing to the fund drive.
    Herbert Erickson, Rt. 2, Grantsburg (Trade River) was in the Leader office on business and told us he had a television set installed the day before--the first on in his community.  "It is really wonderful, and works perfectly", he said.  McNally Brothers of Grantsburg installed the set.
    In the Pleasant Valley News, Mr. and Mrs. Delmer Boatman were visitors at the Virgil Chappelears.  Emma Johnson, 71, had a birthday party.   Lavonne Johnson is employed at the Henry Giller home while Mr.s Giller is working at St. Croix Falls and Mrs. Dugal Giller is employed at the Yo-yo factory at Luck.   Night school classes have begun at the Pleasant Valley school Tuesday evenings. Anyone wishing to attend are welcome.  Miss Jeanne Lippert and Frank Reynolds of Milltown high school are conducting the classes.  Emma Johnson had a light stroke; she had visitors including Mr. and Mrs. Robert Louis, Keith and Gene.
    October 1, Lucille Armstrong, daughter of Ray Armstrong of Cushing, married Calvin Anton of Thief River Falls, MN.  They left immediately for a wedding trip to Lake Winnibigoshish.  October 16 they were honored at a wedding shower.  Songs included "Beautiful Saviour" by Mrs Robert Lumsden and Roy Swanson; an original poem was read by Mrs. Roy Armstrong; Marcia Lumsden played two accordion numbers and Mrs. Ernest Armstrong gave a reading.  
   Mr. and Mrs Sam Burton of Trade River were tendered a house warming on Tuesday October 25.  Lat March, Sam built the new garage (gas station) on Hwy 87 and the family had temporary living quarters in that building until two weeks ago.  Then they moved into the new house just completed, back of the garage.  The party was held at the Trade River School as the house ws not big enough for the large crowd present.  The program included a duet by Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Johnson; a reading by Mrs. Alton Anderson; a duet by Joseph and Connely Peterson with harp accompaniment; remarks by Rev. Orville Falk. A nice lunch was served and a purse off money ws presented to the honored couple as a remembrance of the pleasant occasion.
    Mrs. Christ Clausen of Cushing brought three mammoth eggs to the Leader office.  Measurements were 6.5 by 7.5 inches.  Mrs. Clausen told us that three to four of these large eggs are gathered every day from her yearling White Leghorn flock.
    The 1949 deer hunting regulations include a white-tail season from Nov 19-23 (5 days).  Bag limit, one deer per season either anterless or with antlers not to exceed a forked horn with a branch of fork two inches long, to be measured from inside angle.  North of Hwy 8, rifles or shotguns with a single slug.  South of hwy 8 only shotguns. 
    Mr. and Mrs. Charley Malmen celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Oct 30 at the Cushing Church.  A fine time was had.  Songs included "Blest be the Tie that Binds", a duet by Abe Skone and Mrs. Ezra Hanson "I'll Go With You" and "There's A Garden."

  Jens Peter Rasmussen, born 1871 in Denmark passed away December 9, 1949 at Siren.  He married Laura Madsen in 1894, came from Denmark to Luck, WI in 1898, where he engaged as a carpenter and construction work.  In 1911, he went to Siren wnere he built the lumber yard with Jens Pedersen of Luck which he owned and operated until 1922 when it was sold to Consolidated Lumber Co.  Mr. Rasmussen managed it until he retired in 1940.  Funeral services were held at the J. B. Hansen chapel with Rev James Everson officiating.  Mr. and Mrs. Everson sang "Some Day the Silver Cord Will Break," "The Last Mile of the Way." and "God's Way is the best Way."  Interment was at the Siren Cemetery.  Amongst the survivors were his son Jens of Siren.  On August 1, 2009, the Burnett Area Artists Group will have a display of 60 paintings of Jens Rasmussen in Siren at the Lakeview Event Center on hwy 35/70, 10-7.  Jens, the son, was born in Luck and moved with his family to Siren.   

Monday, August 7, 2017

Polk County Wisconsin -- Destruction of the Fair Grounds?

    The Polk County Fair is over for another year.  It has been part of my life since the earliest I can remember, first as a thrilled toddler riding the Merry-Go-Round, then as a 4-H'er, later as helping Mom with her 50+ years of exhibiting fruits and vegetables, then as Margo and I began exhibiting.  
    When we retired in 2005, we began volunteering at the fair, mostly working at the 1850s historic school house, helping with make it a historical stop during the fair, something we did again this year. 
   However, the historic nature of the fairgrounds, with many buildings 100 years old or more, is being threatened by a group of folks who believe old is bad, and new is good, threatening the future of the dozen or so historic buildings at the 1886 fairgrounds. 
  Here is my letter to the editor this week.  I have become an advocate for repairing the 1909 grandstand, and that has evolved into concern over all of the old buildings.  
    The Polk County Fair Park in St Croix Falls has many historic buildings in danger of being destroyed by the Polk County Fair Society and the Polk County Board.  We must act now to stop this wanton destruction of our history on the 1886 fairgrounds.  They are our buildings, owned by us, the residents or taxpayers of the county.  The two boards appear to be moving rapidly to begin the process with the 1909 grandstand destruction, but this is but the tip of the iceberg.  Motivated by visions of newness, pushed by a campaign of misinformation and aided by  intentional neglect, we are in grave danger of losing at least three more buildings in the near future.  
   The historic 1909 grandstand is the first in line, but the 1850s Red School House, the flower building, and the dance pavilion are next in line if the current Fair Society continues to pull the wool over the eyes of us and of the county board.    
    Margo and I have been volunteering at the fair since 2005 helping with the oldest building on the fairgrounds, the Red School House, and are members of the Fair Society.   At the fair this year we heard disturbing news of planned destruction, far beyond that of the grandstand, ideas that we previously had dismissed as rumors, but now confirmed by members of the Fair Society Board, members of the County Board, and by volunteers at the fair and fair goers. 
   The disturbing news?  There is a campaign to rid the south end of the fairgrounds of the wonderful old buildings and replace them with another pole shed.  The grandstand is first, and the other buildings next. 
   The campaign includes intentional neglect of the buildings.  I was rather dumbfounded last year when, seeing the Red school house was badly in need of paint inside and out, and a few window sash replacements, I made a written offer to raise $500 to begin the fixes and the offer was ignored by the fair board. 
  This year when I talked to fair board members, asking them why they weren’t fixing the old buildings or at least taking my offer to do it myself with the school, was told that the job was overwhelming, $100,000 or more needed because of lead paint issues, and the building was in such poor shape it wasn’t worth fixing and the comment, that we should be grateful the society kept the school house around another year for historic exhibits at all.   
  That lead paint is an excuse is complete nonsense!  The school house is like any building, in need of ongoing care, but the issues are minor and those of neglect.  A little maintenance and it will be good for several more generations of fairgoers.         
    The Wisconsin Historical Society tells us “You do not need to take drastic measures to eliminate lead paint from your historic house or building. Lead paint is only a hazard if it is unstable, so the mere presence of lead paint is no reason to destroy the historic fabric of your structure…procedures to safely remove lead paint should not cost more than 10% above the cost of a hand-scraped paint removal job”  and goes on to explain the easily followed details, the same things I do with my own 100 year old house.  
     Not only did fair board members raise this lead as an insurmountable issue, but a county board member repeated it last week.  Part of a campaign of misinformation from the Fair Society and bought, without question, by some county board members, who should at least take the time to understand these issues rather than just repeat incorrect information (BS is really a better description).   
   Another issue with the school:  two of the eighteen window sashes need replacement now and others will in the future.  The wildly exaggerated cost by board members is, like that of lead paint, totally bogus. The frames need painting but are sound.  A replacement, made-to-size barn sash that matches the historic existing windows perfectly is about $60/per sash at Menards, and easily replaced.  When I volunteered this year to do the fixes and fund them, through donations from local history societies, I was told I couldn’t proceed by fair board members.     
   What we have, is a campaign of destruction, led by the Fair Society President Dale Wood, in what appears to be a personal mission to destroy the historic buildings on the fairgrounds and replace them with pole sheds.  Mr. Wood claims phone calls and people from the community are unanimously behind him – hundreds of them all in favor of ridding the fairgrounds of its history, with the grandstand the first domino.  
    Our County board makes the final decisions on buildings, informed (misinformed?) by the Fair Society as to what needs work. County board member, Larry Jepson noted at a board committee meeting last week, that while at the fair, he noted the peeling paint, deteriorating roofs, and a general lack of upkeep on the buildings.  Administrator Frye commented that the Fair Society has the obligation to bring those problems to the County Board’s attention, and if the buildings are deteriorating, the Fair Society is not doing its job, either in doing the maintenance or asking the county to take it on.    
   My opinion is that the neglect is intentional and part of the attempt to get rid of older buildings by the Fair Society.  We all know that we have to continue to maintain our own houses to keep them livable.  The fair buildings are no different.    
  We, the residents and taxpayers of Polk County own the fairgrounds as a county owned park.  We vote for our County board members to represent our interests. If we value the fairgrounds and want the historic buildings to continue a part of our fair experience, we must make our voice heard too.  
        The next county board meeting, Aug 15th, 6 pm, considers a resolution to fund an engineering study of the grandstand that would actually find out the condition and cost of repair to continue using the oldest grandstand in the whole Midwest.    
    Right now we don’t even know what is wrong with it nor the cost of getting it fixed.    Any rational group of folks making a decision on their own buildings, unless they were insistent on a new building only, or no building at all, would start by finding out what is wrong and the cost of fixing it before making the decision to tear it down.   Yet that is likely not to happen with the grandstand. 
    Egged on and misinformed by the Fair Society, our county board representatives are likely to vote against even this modest step!   Five or more members may be voting nay in their belief that any money spent on the fairgrounds at all is a waste of  taxpayer’s money and open bleachers or grassy knolls are the answer. A few more will vote against it for fear the cost of fixing will be reasonable, and so get in the way of the Fair Society’s campaign to modernize everything, having accepted the Fair Society’s propaganda efforts.   
  What can we do to stop this push to destruction of our history?  Make your opinion heard by both County and Fair board members.   We own these buildings and only we can stop this campaign to destroy our heritage. 
  August 15, 6 pm, at Balsam Lake at the county board meeting is the crucial step in this process when a vote for the engineering study is a vote to proceed rationally, and against is a vote to destroy our history.   
   Become a member of the Polk Co Fair Society.  Just send $5 to Diane Kuhl, 298 30th St., Clear Lake, WI 54005.  include your name, address, telephone number, email – 5 year membership.  Sometimes we must work within organizations that purport to have our best interests in mind. 
  By the way, the Red School House had its peeling paint and rusted spots on the outside touched up, the inside worst flaking paint removed, and a temporary fix for the two sagging window sashes by an anonymous volunteer who just did it.   

The Flower building looks like an old school house too.  It has a handicap entrance to the side, and other than some peeling paint, quite nicely preserved!   

The 1850s School House where Margo volunteer.  With a little paint and some window sashes, it will be fine for many more generations of visitors. 

The metal brick embossed siding is sound, but needed some touchup and probably a full painting.  Last time was by the 4-H kids many years ago. 

After some scraping and touchup paint, the siding rust and peeling is halted, but painting the whole building would be better. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

The 2017 Polk County Fair in Photos

Some photos from the fair July 27-30, 2017.  No editing, sorting, etc, just straight from the camera.  
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June Berries


Photos from around the farm the third week of June 2017